Top positive review
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Deeply suspensful mythos fiction with a potent sense of cosmic dread thrown in!!
on 12 October 2007
Whilst I am certainly no literary authority or critic, I am a big fan of H.P Lovecraft's work and mythos fiction in general.
I have focused primarily on my experience of the book in order to avoid spoiling the plot for potential readers.
As stated in Amazon's synopsis the story unfolds with the discovery of mummies during an archaeological dig. From there things go from bad to worse with the subsequent discovery of a pre-human civilisation.
What really struck me about Tim Curran's Hive is the intensity of the atmosphere. I had a vivid sense of the character's vulnerability as they were marooned at the south pole without the possibility of intervention from the outside world during the long Antarctic winter months. Alongside feeling the vulnerability of the character's in such precarious circumstances, I was left with potent feelings of isolation, claustrophobia and paranoia.
The sense of isolation, paranoia and claustrophobia not to mention impending calamity, was for me strongly reminiscent of John Carpenter's The Thing, most especially in terms of the paranoia the character's experience.
Given that Hive is a full length publication rather than a short story which the majority of mythos based publications are, the author has plenty of room to gradually build the atmosphere. This I feel Curran does to great effect.
Another aspect I really enjoyed was the use of `pseudo' science and scientific terms in the story. There was a nice level of detail concerning the archaeological dig, technology itself and findings. For me that added a level of credibility and believability as a result I became more immersed in what was unfolding. Descriptions of the species found in mummified form, along with discussions about them were dealt with intelligently without being overly complex. I got just enough information to suspend my disbelief and submerge myself into the atmosphere.
A hugely effective element is the blatant sense of cosmic dread engendered in the turn of events that unfold for the main characters. Each progressive discovery leads to increasingly bleak revelations. Anyone familiar with Lovecraft will know that the notion of a cold, neutral universe that is fundamentally indifferent and uncaring towards human life and suffering underpins anything that can be referred to as truly mythos based or Lovecraftian. Hive definitely has that in abundance albeit with a slightly sinister elaboration thrown in.
Time for a small gripe, some of the sardonic humour dialogue is at times a little cheesy, over facetious, self indulgent and doesn't work that well.
One major question that needs to be asked by Lovecraft and mythos fans; is this really a sequel to the Mountains Of Madness?
I would say yes and no. As much as I enjoyed Lovecraft's Mountains Of Madness I have felt each time I read it that there is an excess of detail with the atmosphere being built to a crescendo without anything really happening. Sacrilege in some people's eyes no doubt!
Hive was different for me in that there was less detail than ATMM, but enough to build a strong sense of suspense and allow for more to actually happen. In many ways including some of the vivid gore depicted in Hive, Curran is a great deal more direct than Lovecraft. Then again how many contemporary authors are capable of the fabulous, lofty eloquence of H.P Lovecraft?
Hive in my experience was something of a hybrid combining the best elements of ATMM and The Thing. It was refreshing to read something mythos orientated that was not a short story and therefore had scope to build a pervasive atmosphere of menace, dread, isolation, paranoia.....
As a finale I will re-iterate that Hive has a potent atmosphere evoking a cosmic sense of dread juxtaposed alongside primal instinctive fears.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and found it to be refreshing to read mythos fiction in a full length rather than short story format for a change. I would definitely recommend this to Lovecraft and mythos fans as well as those who enjoyed John Carpenter's The Thing.